School Days: Trapping Muskrats in Northern Idaho

11 School Days

Devin Fredericks, 13, Idaho

Boy eagerly awaits for ’rat season to open
so he can trap with his dad and sister

 

I started trapping when I was 8 years old. I’m 13 now. My dad had just got back into trapping, so we decided to trap muskrats in the ditches around our house. I was really excited for this and would look forward to it every day. Prices at the time were $4 to $5 a ’rat, so it was a fun way to make a little money. After a year or two, prices took a plunge, and we started to just skin the muskrats and freeze the hides.

One day, my sister and I decided that we would go down to our farm pond and set a trap using the classic foothold trap with a drowning stick. But we neglected to put the drowning stick in the deep water. So when we went out there the next day, we found a very small muskrat caught by one foot and on dry land. After a lot of stress (and my sister’s boot being chewed on), we were finally able to let the little guy go. After that, my sister and I decided to always have our dad with us when we checked our traps.

Then, after another few years with little hope for decent prices, my dad caught wind that prices had gone up. So we increased our production and started sending the hides to North American Fur Auctions, where we got Top Lot Trapper and averaged $7.

Now, every year, muskrat trapping season brings a lot of excitement to the house, plus a big sigh from Mom. We’ve got one more Top Lot Trapper award at $17 and were excited last year to average $13 at one sale.

Another fun part of trapping is skinning, and I’m getting pretty good at it, too. I can skin a muskrat almost as fast my dad, but my 17-year-old sister always somehow manages to beat both of us. The best is when the ’rats have been sitting out for a day or two, so they get green bellies. We call them “Mean Joe Greens” because they stink so bad.

One time this year, I decided to check the line with Dad and I brought my shotgun just in case we saw some ducks. We did, but unfortunately I missed. It was so cold that my waders were freezing to the canoe, but I figure it was worth it. Even now, I can’t wait for the next season to open because we’re really gonna sack them up!

“School Days” is sponsored by Duke Traps and the Wisconsin Trappers Association. Winners receive six Duke traps, a Wisconsin Cooperative Trapper Education video, Jim Spencer’s Guide to Trapping book, an NTA handbook and a membership to their state’s trappers association. To be considered, send a 300- to 500-word story and high-quality photo of the trapper to School Days, Trapper & Predator Caller, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990; or email the story and photo to jared.blohm@fwmedia.com. Please make sure to include the trapper’s name, age and address.

 

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This column appeared in the November 2014 Trapper & Predator Caller issue.

You can pick up a copy of the digital issue on www.ShopDeerHunting.com.


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